Christian Health Service Corps has a policy that missionaries should physically get away from their place of work every quarter. These days, when a large portion of my work can be done from home, and when traveling across borders is difficult, we have to be a bit more intentional about finding times of rest and reflection outside the normal routine.
We haven’t been to the lake in over 3 years, since we took my Aunties in early 2018. We forgot how rough the road was in some parts, and how much of a toll a 4 hour drive can take under those conditions. We were a bit delayed leaving, too. I wanted to attend an early-morning meeting at clinic, and what started as a devotion and teaching ran over into checking on a CT scan and discussing assessment of kidney function in the management of other chronic diseases. But we made it on the road by 10:30 and we even made it past the half-dozen police check points and the immigration check point. We ate peanut butter sandwiches on the way and encountered the smelliest bathroom stop I have ever seen, and after years in Africa that is really saying something.
We thought we would listen to a book on tape, but we didn’t and the hours in the car ended up being some of my favorite time of the trip. We talked about long-term plans in Malawi, what we were hoping for and what threats to sustainability might be. We discussed how to manage immigration issues in the next year and after that, we talked about housing and budgeting options. It happened to be 17 years from the day that we met, so we also talked about our time together, how we had grown and what we were thankful for.
We arrived to a beautiful beach-front cottage in a nice resort area. We made it just in time for a sunset cruise, so we plopped down our bags and jumped on a boat. I’ve been snorkeling in Lake Malawi before, but this time we went to a cove on a little island, and we saw incredible fish of so many colors. It was truly like swimming in a natural aquarium. We watched fish eagles flying and then enjoyed the sunset as we traveled back. Many resorts in this area had to close during the time of COVID. I wonder how many affordable lodging options will be here in the future.
After sitting on the beach watching the stars come out and enjoying a great dinner which was included with the room (food you don’t have to prepare or pay for is always more fun) we decided to go to bed early, at 8:30. Some very peppy music started at 9 pm and went until about 6:30 a – we found out later that the area’s chief was celebrating a family wedding. I had ear plugs, but not quite enough to not wake up every hour or so. It was a nice morning the next day, and breakfast was great. We sat watching the waves for about an hour, then decided we might as well be on our way. We thought originally of staying for 2 nights, but we felt relaxed (if not rested) and had enjoyed all the excursions we hoped for. This year we’ve cut many of our vacations short by at least a day, but what can I say – our house is comfortable and our own bed is just the best, and at least we are learning to sleep through the noises in our own neighborhood.
So we came home Saturday afternoon. We stopped on the way to buy a wicker swinging chair, with the hope that we can bring a bit of the relaxation we felt at the beach back to a part of our home. We chatted a bit more along the way until we finally settled for listening to music accumulated from shared experiences together. We relaxed at home for the rest of the weekend, and for us that brought a nice finish to a great trip. I’m glad that our organization encourages us to get away, and it was a great time with just the two of us. Next time, maybe we’ll try to be away more than 36 hours.